Wednesday, November 02, 2005

sleepless wishes

If I could travel anywhere, to any period of time, past, present or future, where would I go?

Insomnia is a good excuse to think about these things. And it is better to focus my mind on these types of questions than to drift into the usual paranoid worries about anything and everything, worries that never really materialize.

I would want to travel back in time, perhaps 200 years, maybe 500, to see the place I call home as it was then. I want to see the ancient white pines towering above me, to hear the wind whispering through the lofty branches, to see the first glint of sunrise shimmering on the dark green needles. How tall were they? How big were the trunks at the base? I have heard of stumps six feet across or more, giants long gone now. What was it like to walk beneath, my feet on a carpet of soft needles and humus undisturbed? What birds lived in these woods?

I want to see Sand Creek as a meandering, free flowing river, before it was ditched and straightened. Did it flow beneath pines or through sedge meadows and tamarack bogs? What did the water look like before logging and farming muddied it with silt and altered the base flows? I hear stories of three pound brook trout caught by local settlers in the early 1900's; the carrying capacity must have been much greater then.

I want to walk with the Ojibwe who lived here, who knew the seasons, who harvested blueberries and manoomin (wild rice) and fish and deer. I want to know the land like they did, to make the act of living and the act of worship indistinguishable from one another. I want to dance around a fire on a chilly November night, to celebrate the turning of the days and the turning of the seasons and the cycles of life that flow through us all.

I want to hear the howls of wolves, the laughing of coyotes; I want to see the moose, the elk, the lynx. I want to hear the wild calls of unknown birds echoing through the woods and across the lakes. I want to see the sturgeon, six foot long giants, run the rapids in the spring to spawn.

I want to see the wildflowers in early spring; I want to see meadows in full bloom, meadows of big bluestem untouched by knapweed and reed canary grass. I want to return to that place, a place both of innocence and of great wisdom. What knowledge have we lost along with the virgin white pines?

Today, incidentally, is the third anniversary of the day we came home to Sand Creek.


Jim said...

Beautifully said Deb, and can you imagine seeing millions of Passenger Pigeons blacken the daytime sky?

Lynne said...


Just beautiful. Last spring we bought some land on Hasty Brook north of Cromwell, and I too have wondered what the land was like years ago. You have given me a mental snapshot. Thanks.

contrary princess said...

Many years. May your roots sink deep, deep, deep.

madcapmum said...

Oops! I forgot that my daughter had been working on her blog. So, I'm not the Contrary Princess, I'm the Contrary Madcap. Sorry about that.

Jim said...


Hehe, so your daughter is the Contrary Princess huh, I thought that was my daughter!;~)

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Deb-- This is so beautiful, like a chant and a dream. I love how you love the earth you walk on. I always think that those who truly see the land, hold the old wilderness spirit in themselves.
I hope you see and hear everything you wish for.
Congratulations on your three year anniversary.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Somewhere along the line it seems you became part of the land and vice versa. Happy anniversary!

Deb said...

I could have sworn I posted a comment here this afternoon. O Blogger, Where Art Thou? :)

jim- that would have been an awesome sight.

Lynne- Congratulations on your land purchase and may you enjoy it for many years to come. Cromwell is not too far away; my husband used to hunt ducks near Island Lake. Actually, he used to live in Cloquet, so he knows the area well.

contrary madcap princess-- thank you. And I would describe my own daughter as a contrary princess as well.

Sylvia--as always, good to see you here! And, I think I could never leave here because I am a part of this place now. +++++

Sonia said...

Beautiful post! Really, it's better to focus our mind on nice questions "than to drift into the usual paranoid worries about anything and everything, worries that never really materialize." Wise thought!

pablo said...

I've also thought about visiting my land to see what it was like in the past. I wouldn't limit my time traveling to only one time though. I'd like to see it in recent times, pre-European settlement times, pre-human times, and the day that crazy meteor struck!

Deb said...

Sonia--thanks for stopping by! I just looked at your blog, and I'll have to spend some more time there!

pablo--yes, your land does have a very interesting history. I'd like to see this place throughout history as well; the pre-glacial and post-glacial periods, and the time around when the Douglas Fault was active; we're almost on top of it.

I've been doing some research on recent history i.e. the last 150 years, and I have a lot of posting to do regarding that. I'm even thinking of starting a parallel blog just focusing on the history of this land.

the dharma bum said...

deb, what a wonderful post. i've often let my mind wonder and wander over the same kinds of things, but i've never been able to so fully actually imagine what it would have been like.

i remember on my first trip to montana we were driving across the plains and my buddy pointed out a cut in a ridgeline a mile away and told me it was an old part of the oregon trail. it gave me pause, that's for sure, and really made me think about any land i go to and what it must have been like before the arrival of europeans, and also at the early stages of european exploration.

you really should try out the parallel blog, that sounds like it would be fascinating... just as long as you promise to keep up on this one too!